Monday, May 29, 2017

Walls and Bridges

Indra's lightning cleft the mountain
Water poured from Shiva's head
A river flowed into the valley
Vishwa-karma, build us a city

A bright roofed palace to shine in the sun
A great temple carved from living rock
Every person should have a place
And every place should have a purpose

The making of a city is not for one man
But assistants, crew chiefs, workers, and foremen
Of all these helpers, there was one favorite
Kshitija-mitra built the bridge

This story exists in many versions and forms
In one, the bridge is a mighty success
Acclaimed by man and god alike
Till Vishwa-karma, in a jealous rage
Curses his student, saying to him
Each bridge you build will stand on its end
And there on its end it will become a wall

In another it is not a commission of the gods
But a gift to his wife, that goes horribly wrong,
And her curse to him is the walls of her silence
To which he is bound forever long

Every time I build a bridge it turns into a wall

I looked at the ruins
Of the land bridge to Lanka
I swayed on a foot bridge
With the Indus below
I walked a pontoon
In the midst of the Yamuna
These may be bridges
But this is not my bridge

My bridge must be more
Than a way one could cross
It should be, above all
A place for people to meet
To sit, to converse, to enjoy the breezes
Of the river as it flows
Below your feet

Rocks and rubble and
Stones and rubble and
Mortar and rubble and
Rubble and rubble

Every time I build a bridge it turns into a wall

h/t B. Shivkumar